Dear Friends:

With this Fourth Sunday of Lent, we celebrate what is known as Laetare Sunday, that is, the Sunday “of rejoicing.” We have fasted and prayed for over three weeks and now we sense that Easter nears, the great feast of our salvation. The color of the vestments worn this weekend traditionally is rose, which symbolizes joyful anticipation. Of course, there are two weeks of Lent that are ahead of us before we begin Holy Week. In light of that, we are called on this Sunday of joyful anticipation to intensify our spiritual observance of Lent.

Next Sunday, the season of Lent enters into what is known as Passiontide. The Fifth Week of Lent as well as Holy Week focus on the cross of Christ, the sacrifice that Jesus made for our salvation and the promise of eternal life that dawns for us all in the mystery and joy of Easter. At both St. Agnes’ and St. Mary’s Churches beginning next weekend, the statues will be covered in purple. This was a longstanding tradition in the Church prior to the Second Vatican Council, when what we call the Fifth Sunday of Lent was called Passion Sunday. On that Sunday, the Gospel account of Jesus going into hiding from the Jews was read and in recognition of that, the statues were all covered, usually in purple. While we no longer read that gospel passage on the Fifth Sunday of Lent, the bishops in recent years have granted permission for the statues to be covered as they once were. In observance of that, all statues and images in both churches will be covered beginning next Saturday evening and remain covered until Holy Saturday afternoon. What will remain uncovered is the crucifix, and appropriately so, for in these last days of Lent and the days of Holy Week, we should contemplate the mystery of the Lord’s cross. In doing so, as we genuflect in church, we could pray the antiphon that is used during the Stations of the Cross: “We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you, for by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world.”

The third annual St. Patrick’s Day Dinner will be held next Saturday, March 17 in the St. Mary School gym. Be sure to get your tickets. It promises to be a wonderful time with corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, and more, including lively Irish music.

Next weekend at both churches, a very brief homily will be given and the homily will be followed by the annual parish financial report. Copies of our financial statement will be available in the bulletin and comments will be made on it. Should you have any questions, you may contact me or Meg Hayes at (203) 878-3571. In this space next weekend, I will supply a report on the spiritual state of our parish.

Have a great week!